Ophthalmoscope History

The ophthalmoscope allows a doctor to study the inside of the eye in order to detect signs of disease and abnormalities on the lens and retina of the eye. This is done by projecting a light beam into the eye or through the pupil.

In the year 1847, Charles Babbage was the first person to invent the ophthalmoscope. He is an English mathematician who gave the instrument to doctor or physician for examining, however it was kept aside and forgotten. After three to four years later, Hermann von Helmholtz a German physiologist and physician invented his own model of ophthalmoscope. Hermann von Helmholtz was unaware of the Charles Babbage’s device. Since he had a better luck in making his instrument known, Helmholtz often considered as the sole inventor.

Helmholtz's device worked by using a mirror in order to shine a light beam into the human eye, the viewer would look through a small opening in the mirror. Hermann von found that seeing via the lens into the fundus or back of the eye only generated a red reflection. By fixing a condenser lens Hermann von achieved a clearer and better inverted image that was then five times magnified. Hermann called this conjunction of condenser lens and a mirror an indirect ophthalmoscope. It was used often for eye test until the year 1920. He also invented another instrument which is called as ophthalmometer that was used to calculate the curvature of the human eye. The curvature of the eye verifies whether the focal point of the object’s image would be on the lens of the eye, or behind or in front the lens. If the focal point is not on the lens, the individual will be far-sighted or near sighted. In addition, Hermann von learned about the speed of the nervous impulses and color blindness. The “Handbook of Physiological Optics” was the book which was written by him.

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